What does ‘diversity’ mean? To many people, ‘diversity’ means just one thing: the color of your skin. That’s why I’ve selected this photo from the 2011 Kolache Festival in Prague, Oklahoma. On the surface, it would appear that this is a pretty homogenous crowd, typical of small-town Oklahoma: nearly 100% white, lots of “traditional” families, and lots of OU and OSU apparel.
Look beyond skin color and you’ll see a much more complex picture. Women, cowboys, hipsters, young professionals, gay men and women, Jewish people, Christians, atheists, high school dropouts, college graduates, poor, rich, tall, short, skinny, fat, muscular, lean, Czechs, Creeks, Seminoles, Anglos, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, potheads, Sunday school teachers… I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Diversity is much more than some people would have you believe. It’s all the things I listed above; it’s diversity of opinions, religions (or lack thereof), ethnic backgrounds, languages, sexual orientations, levels of education, income levels, etc.
The next time you think you’re being inclusive and a proponent of diversity, ask yourself if you’re only thinking of race. Does your definition of ‘minority’ rest solely on skin color? Challenge your preconceived notions of diversity.
On some level, all people categorize the world around them. It’s part of human nature in that it makes it easier for us to define what we know, who we are, and store what we’ve learned.
The next time you’re planning to do anything relating to diversity, make sure you consider more than just skin color.